Be careful how you live

Earlier in Ephesians chapter 5, the apostle Paul talked about the darkness of the immoral acts of the disobedient and the light indicating the fruits of faith that reflect the light of the Lord.  As he wrote about a contrast between darkness and light (vv. 8-14), he now turns to the contrast between foolishness and wisdom.  

Be very careful, then, how you live-- not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. 19 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:15-20)

Here Paul directs the Ephesian Christians to evaluate how carefully they are walking spiritually.  The Greek in verse 15  means how a person walks in their faith or conducts their life.  The present tense indicates that they continually need to look at how they are living their faith.  Paul encourages these Ephesian believers to live not as unwise, but wise people. Such wisdom only comes from fearing and trusting in the Lord.


Paul encourages us to make the most of our opportunities.  We might call this a spiritual “carpe diem.” We should make the most of our opportunities to live a sanctified life in Christ or share the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Paul advises us not to act like the fool who not only misses opportunities to make use of his time, but also fails to understand God’s purposes for mankind and for Christians.  The foolish person has no strategy for life and misses opportunities to live for God in an evil environment.  

For examples of foolish thinking versus wise thinking, check out some of the Proverbs (foolish -- 10:1, 14:1, 15:20, 17:25, 19:13; wisdom – 2:6, 8:11, 13:10, 23:23, 29:3).  The Christian walks in the full light of the gospel.  Christian wisdom makes the most of its opportunities.  To be wise means more than to know, but to use, apply, and get the most out of our spiritual walking and the management of our life.  Paul urges us to invest in every spiritual opportunity because the days are evil.


God’s people are encouraged to make use of their reasoning power.  Getting drunk on wine is just one example of how a person can lose control of their thinking. In A Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament Fritz Rienecker records that in Philo’s treatise entitled “On Drunkenness,” he illustrates drunkenness generally as a mark of the blind and foolish man who is a slave to the material world.  Others state that drunkenness causes people to lose their self-control and forces them into committing many distasteful acts.


Instead, Paul encourages them to be filled with the Spirit.  Take note of the contrast between being filled with wine or being filled with the Spirit. You are encouraged to be under the influence of God’s control rather than excessive and immoral living. Verses 19-20 speak of specific ways you can show your desire to live according to the Lord’s will.  Sharing psalms, singing hymns, making music in your heart, and giving thanks to God for everything are some ways believers can allow themselves to be continually filled with the Spirit (see Colossians 3:15-17 for some additional insight into the verses of this text).


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